How The $PEPE Team & Insiders Stole Tens of Millions of Dollars

The Cardano Times
9 min readAug 26, 2023


Zachary Testa and two other members of the PEPE team have stolen 16T $PEPE tokens worth $15,000,000 from the project’s multi-sig wallet

The Ethereum memecoin $PEPE

What Happened?

$PEPE, one of the largest memecoins on Ethereum; has become entrenched in controversy after the project announced that three members of the core team stole over $15,000,000 from the project’s multi-sig CEX wallet, transferring over 16.2 trillion tokens to Binance and OKX that were sold immediately. This in turn caused investors to panic, with $PEPE having a daily trading volume of well over $300M.

Here’s what we know:
1.) 16.2 trillion tokens were sent out from the multi-sig address:
2.) 6.7 trillion tokens were sent to a Binance exchange address:
➜ This wallet address is currently unknown
3.) 8.5 trillion tokens were sent to an OKX exchange address:

16 trillion $PEPE were sent to the OKX and Binance exchanges

How Did This Happen?

The alleged only remaining member of the core PEPE team issued a press release earlier today describing what happened in very little detail whatsoever. The press release stated that the multi-sig wallet controlled by all four members of the team had miraculously reduced its mandated signature count to just two out of the eight wallets. This allowed three team members to allegedly transfer out $15 million worth of $PEPE to centralized exchanges on August 24th in the hopes of turning a handsome profit at the expense of their community of well over 100,000 holders.

Here’s what the remaining team member claims occurred:

“Yesterday these 3 ex-team members came behind my back, logged onto the multi-sig, stole 16 trillion/60% of the 26 trillion multi-sig tokens, and sent them to exchanges to sale. They then removed themselves from the multi sig in an attempt to absolve any association to $PEPE, deleting all of their social accounts and leaving behind nothing but a message stating ‘the multi-sig has been updates, you are now in full control [of $PEPE].’”

In total, the “nefarious” team members stole 16 trillion of the remaining 26 trillion tokens (61.54% of the remaining $PEPE) in the wallet; leaving the wallet with just 10 trillion tokens (38.46% of the remaining $PEPE).

However, it is important to note that allegations are surfacing that the entire core team is still managing the official PEPE account; attempting to deceive their community in the hopes of avoiding inevitable legal trouble for their unethical activities.

CryptoNoddy posted to Twitter his skepticism regarding the legitimacy of the press release, disputing the claim the PEPE team made about having all three signers removed from the multi-sig wallet; showcasing that all signers still remain in control of the wallet and are therefore not in safe hands. View his full report on Twitter through the thread attached below:

$PEPE Insiders & Team Members Have Also Been Selling Off 4.5% Of The Supply Since May

In May, a crypto researcher by the name of Gemmer.eth who runs a Twitter account called Crypto Overview; released a report alleging that $PEPE insiders and team members used ten wallets to purchase 30$-50$ worth of $PEPE per wallet on the project’s launch and began dumping them on the public. Here’s what we know about the allegations:

1.) The Pepe Deployer Wallet was funded 2.2 Ethereum from ByBit:

2.) Ten wallets bought $30–$50 worth of $PEPE each on the project’s launch, accumulating over 4.5% of the supply immediately. View some of the transactions showcased by Gemmer.eth below:

3.) These wallets all participating in the project’s launch all held for exactly eight days in total, and then every single wallet transferred their holdings to ten entirely new wallets at precisely the same time.

4.) Then, 0.0420 Ethereum was sent to all ten of the entirely new wallets that were created from ByBit; the same exchange that funded the $PEPE Deployer wallet. View one of the transactions below:

5.) As of May 8th, the tokens these wallets accumulated for just $300–$500 were worth well over $50,000,000 unevenly distributed between them. One out of the ten wallets began selling their $PEPE holdings on May 1st:

6.) Here are the Ethereum wallet addresses of all ten wallets that were collectively holding 4.5% of the supply as of May 8th:

a.) Wallet Number One: 91st Largest Holder
View On Etherescan

b.) Wallet Number Two: 39th Largest Holder
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c.) Wallet Number Three: 27th Largest Holder
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d.) Wallet Number Four: 23rd Largest Holder
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e.) Wallet Number Five: 21st Largest Holder
View On Etherescan

f.) Wallet Number Six: 17th Largest Holder
View On Etherescan

g.) Wallet Number Seven: 16th Largest Holder
View On Etherescan

h.) Wallet Number Eight: 15th Largest Holder
View On Etherescan

i.) Wallet Number Nine: 13th Largest Holder
View On Etherescan

j.) Wallet Number Ten: 9th Largest Holder
View On Etherescan

The wallets are closely associated with the $PEPE Deployer address and there are strong indications that there is a single individual, group, or entity managing all of these wallets. Simply based on each wallet transaction being conducted at exactly the same time in the exact same manner across all wallets draws near-definitive conclusions.

Collectively, these wallets turned a few hundred dollars into tens of millions, garnering massive profits for the individuals managing the wallets and selling off their holdings. There are allegations surfacing accusing the core members of the team of being complicit in this scheme, and given the recent events; it is likely the team has been rugging.

The Cardano Times was also able to obtain the $PEPE insider distribution wallets that profited immensely from the launch, view the full list of addresses in the graphic attached below:

As of August 26th, insiders of $PEPE still possess over $10,000,000 worth of $PEPE that has not been sold yet; with nine remaining wallets containing $850,000-$2,630,000 per wallet. Pauly released a full list of the Ethereum addresses on Twitter as well as a graphic displaying the insider wallet holdings in fiat-based measurements.

But not only has the team been extracting millions of dollars from their community and meme coin’sliquidity pools, the remaining core team member has claimed the $PEPE team engaged in a toxic work environment that prevented effective decision-making and growth/progress.

$PEPE: An Allegedly Awful Workplace Environment

The press release from yesterday night stated that since its inception, “$PEPE has been unfortunately been plagued by inner strife with a portion of the team being bad actors led by big egos and greed.” After this disastrous debacle devastating the $PEPE community, the remaining team member stated that this was a new era for the memecoin; claiming that they are “now entirely free of this baggage, with clear roads ahead.”

This individual went on to describe the allegedly horrible work environment, stating that the majority of the team involved in $PEPE[‘s] creation started to distance themselves after the first week of the project[‘s] inception.” He stated that with their lack of involvement, “they blocked team progress on making donations or purchases with the multi-sig tokens to inability to make signatures, disagreements, and being unavailable to contact for weeks at a time.”

There is allegedly a presence of animosity between the core members of the team, the only remaining team member unleashing a wave of allegations about the environment he worked in, and the malicious team members abandoned the project and their business partner to face the wrath of the vocal PEPE community.

However, it is important to note that the project took multiple days to issue a statement after the allegations surfaced regarding malicious activities; utilizing a common narrative other teams have attempted to use in the past in an ignorant effort to excuse their abandonment of the project or their unethical and/or possibly illegal behavior.

View the statement released by $PEPE attached below:

Official $PEPE Press Release, August 25th, 2023

Who Has Been Defrauding The Community?

Per an investigation released by Pauly (@Pauly0x) on Twitter, there are several members of the team responsible for these malicious activities and profited immensely from them. However, before we share his findings; it is important to include the context surrounding how he obtained the information. Pauly is a vocal supporter of $PEPE and claims to have even connected the $PEPE team with the Binance and SushiSwap listing teams, which “subseqeunt[ly]” caused $PEPE’s listing on Binance.

The team members of $PEPE who were involved in the scheme had gone by the telegram handles of billyoptions, zerozevia, ekim222, and lordkeklol. These were core members of the team who had worked with Pauly to expose $PEPE to wider audiences and expand its reach, and they have all now deleted their telegram handles after being exposed for stealing the funds from the multi-sig CEX wallet.

Lordkeklol, one of the developers of $PEPE who goes by @degenharambe on Twitter; has been identified as Zachary Testa, a 25–26-year-old landscape photographer who graduated from Arizona State University.

Zachary made immense profits off of his involvement in the $PEPE token and the malicious theft of funds from the multi-sig wallet, purchasing an $865,000 purple Lamborghini that he constantly boasts about alongside his recently obtained ill-gotten gains.

Zachary’s girlfriend, who goes by the psuedonym “HarambesShooter” on Twitter; hopped on a space to defend Zachary while also attempting to lie about her relationship with him. She pretended to be an innocent bystander genuinely concerned for his safety, vigorously defending him and attempting to distance Zachary from the allegations. During this space, she also shockingly admitted that she had launched two memecoins that had reached a market cap of over $1,000,000,000 herself (this occurs at the 9 minute and 20 second mark on the video); all for the sake of coddling her ego and making herself superior. Zachary also appeared on the space and attempted to dispute the very fact that he is indeed Zachary. Listen to the recording of this entire insane encounter on Pauly0x’s space below:

Although Zachary Testa has been the only individual that has had his personal identity revealed amidst the controversy; the individuals under the psuedonyms billyoptions, zerozevia, and ekim222 have yet to be identified. They are confirmed team members of the $PEPE project and are directly associated with the theft of over $15,000,000. It is reported that all of these individuals that are part of the core $PEPE team were involved in this fraudulent scheme and are not attempting to initiate damage control by claiming only a select group of team members had maliciously acted.

Pauly’s report exposing the PEPE team members came before the PEPE press release, with the team only calling out malicious activity after the report’s release. The PEPE team also refused to identify who the alleged portion of the team were that committed the theft of over $15,000,000. Furthermore, the PEPE team has been unreachable for comment; and has publicly stuck with the claim that only one individual is running the project.

It is an unfortunate but harsh reality surrounding the memecoin space, the ponzinomics of these coins are orchestrated by their founders; who clearly show no ethics whatsoever in the creation of an ecosystem that extracts wealth from one person to the next based on gambling. The PEPE team had reached meteoric achievements unheard of in the depths of this bear market, but the team was slowly extracting tens of millions of dollars from their own hundreds of thousands of supporters the entire way through.

Currently, many investors and supporters of the project are submitting reports to regulatory agencies across the world; the PEPE team members all remain in hiding, de-activating their social accounts and removing their social presence wherever it may be. The scheme has ended, the house of cards has collapsed; and once again, the fraudulent bad actors have extracted millions of dollars with no consequences for themselves, only for their supporters and investors.

*The Cardano Times will update you as we learn more on the story.*



The Cardano Times

Keeping you informed of the Cardano Ecosystem one article and podcast at a time. Education is a right, not a privilege. Twitter: @TheCardanoTimes